Bronco Scores Again!


Well, I didn’t get Jalapeño Bites back at Arby’s yet, but I did answer a tweet from Radio Shack… and it got me a free T-shirt and some moral support for the cause!  Messing around on Twitter & insanity are well rewarded these days, I guess.

https://twitter.com/#!/RadioShack/status/190424115423887361
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/190425836485218304
https://twitter.com/#!/RadioShack/status/190454336034308097

I DM’ed them and told them of me real name and my cause.  I think more companies are engaging people personally & directly with Twitter like this, and it’s a great thing.  Who doesn’t like free stuff?

Today the mailman delivered some goodies…

Bronco Jalapeño wins a Radio Shack T-shirt!

Free stuff!

The card s pretty cool too!

Eric, While this shirt can't replace Arby's jalapeño poppers, we hope it comforts you through your withdrawal. Thanks for tweeting at us and for being a fan. Tweet us a pic of your new duds when your shirt gets there. Thanks again! - Billy

@Bronco_Jalapeno #ThanksRadioShack...? Yes, yes he does.

Hilarious.  How fun is that?  I do need some soldering stuff, I guess it’s off to Radio Shack for the stuff next time I need it!  (I might get a couple of capacitors to mess around with.)

So, thanks to Radio Shack for being cool, for the laugh, & for the T-shirt!

Bronco Jalapeño Rides Again!


So my friends, Arby’s is true to their word.  They said they’d send me some Bronco Berry Sauce, and they sure did.  (By the way, Bronco Jalapeño is my thinly veiled alter ego in case you haven’t been following along.)

https://twitter.com/#!/Arbys/status/184987918207680513

I walked into the house today and saw this rather large box on the couch where I normally sit.  My wife had arrived home a little while earlier, and brought it inside.  FedEx dropped it off on the front porch earlier in the day.

I saw my name, then the Arby’s logo, and I could hardly contain my excitement.

A case of Arby's Bronco Berry Sauce

...For me?

I mean, I thrive on the ridiculous, and this is most certainly ridiculous.  This couldn’t be a box full of Bronco Berry Sauce, could it?  Indeed, it could.  Absolutely ridiculous.  Personal supply?  I mean, I like to eat but…

240 Packs of Bronco Berry Sauce!

Yee-haw!

That is a whole lot of horses and berries!  Well, it would be… if Bronco Berry Sauce actually contained any broncos or berries.  The label on the box says that it’s 240 1.5 oz. containers of this decadently delightful dip.  It also contained this lovely letter…

Dear Mr. Carroll,   Your voice has been heard!  Believe me; no one takes sauces more seriously than Arby's. And, we know how a craving for our succulent Bronco Berry Sauce can send a person over the edge when they can't get their fix.   So, never fear. Arby's Bronco Berry Calvary has personally secured a box of the top-secret sauce just for you. Think of it as your own personal stash to satisfy that craving whenever and wherever it hits you.   Now, we know that your demands also included bringing back Jalapeno Bites to the Pittsburgh area. And, as you uncovered, restaurants in each market determine whether to serve the fiery goodness of Jalapeno Bites or the equally as delicious Loaded Potato Bites. While we cannot reverse the "Bites" decision at this time, we have shared your passion for the pungent peppers with the Marketing Team.   We hope that our small gesture has eased your pain and that you will reconsider your sauce sit-in.    Sincerely,  Hala Moddelmog President

Hala Moddelmog

Hala Moddelmog, President of Arby's

A letter from the President of Arby’s?  Hala Moddelmog rules.  I mean, I don’t see the presidents of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Pizza Hut responding to a crazy person on the internet with such individually directed kindness & generosity.

I’m obviously going to need help finishing this case.  It expires in June, so I highly doubt we can get through it all.  Want some Bronco Berry Sauce?  I’m willing to share what is now a rarity in our region.

I’m saddened by the news that Jalapeño Bites won’t be returning to Arby’s in Pittsburgh any time soon, but I do believe that my emails have actually been passed along.  I will pass on the Occupy Arby’s sauce sit-in.  But I still may write a song, even if no one helps me.

Perhaps the song will be the thing that puts our market managers and the marketing team over the edge.  I’ll have to write to my new friend Ms. Moddlemog, and see exactly where to direct my comments.

I almost want to build something out of them.  It looks like 1 or 2 popped (or was squeezed) open, but it’s an acceptable loss.  I mean, it was free.  We had some Bronco Berry Sauce tonight with a few Tyson chicken tenders for dinner in lieu of boring old bottle barbecue sauce.

Bronco Jalapeño’s appetite may be satisfied for now, but my quest is not over.  Arby’s in Pittsburgh, are you listening?  Bring back the Jalapeño bites!  This potato bite shenanigans is just that, shenanigans.

To follow the story from the start, check out these posts:

  1. Arby’s :: Bronco Berry Sauce®
  2. OCCUPY ARBY’S
  3. You may call me… “Bronco Jalapeño”
  4. Conflicting Information from Arby’s… (Help Bronco Jalapeño write a song!)

Conflicting Information from Arby’s… (Help Bronco Jalapeño write a song!)


So, on one hand… Arby’s is trying to placate the great Bronco Jalapeño with the promise of personal gain.  I think.  They don’t flat-out say that, but that’s what I read from it.  What do you think?

http://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/184273238875062273

http://twitter.com/#!/Arbys/status/184282918540165121

http://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/184345272032305152

Arby's

Arby's

So they intend to silence the great Jalapeño with a free sample or some coupons?  Perhaps with just their word?  I have not received a reply to the tweet yet… and I’m not sure how they would send a supply of Bronco Berry Sauce as I don’t think Bronco Jalapeño has an address… unless they know that I am Bronco Jalapeño… (which isn’t too hard to figure out) but then again I don’t remember if I provided my address in their contact form, and they haven’t reached out to ask me for it.

On the other hand, I received this email…

From: “customerservice@arbys.com” <customerservice@arbys.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:20 AM
Subject: Customer Feedback #474233

Dear Mr. Carroll,

Thank you for your comments regarding our Bronco Berry Sauce.  Our customer’s input and comments are always welcome and very important to us. We use this information to guide the decisions we make about our brand and our products. We have shared your comments with our Menu and Product Development team for future consideration. Also, Bronco Berry sauce is not available for retail sale.

 If you have any additional questions you can give us a call at 800-599-2729.

 Thank you again.

 Sincerely,
Arby’s Customer Relations

Allow me to translate a few key lines…

Arby's

No hat is too big for Bronco Jalapeño!

“We have shared your comments with our Menu and Product Development team for future consideration.” means a couple of things:

“We’ve shared your comments” means that it’s off of their collective customer service desk, so they consider the issue resolved, and can blame any further lack of progress or answers solely on the “Menu and Product Development team.”

“For future consideration” means I won’t get a reply from them either, and this will most likely go ignored, completely negating the statements “Our customer’s input and comments are always welcome and very important to us. We use this information to guide the decisions we make about our brand and our products.”

Perhaps I’m too cynical.

Also, Bronco Berry sauce is not available for retail sale” means “too bad for you!”

Oddly (or perhaps not), the # 474233 indicates a second query when I still have no answer to the first… # 473197.

I’m not sure if Arby’s communicates well internally…

https://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/184270277780307968
https://twitter.com/#!/Arbys/status/183361352306405376
https://twitter.com/#!/Arbys/status/183361594863005696

So I’m not sure what’s up there.

While we wait for clarification, will you help Bronco Jalapeño write a song?

https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/184273238875062273
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/184274132156944384
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/184345954655285248

It can be a protest song, maybe an old west ballad folk-type thing.

You may call me… “Bronco Jalapeño”


So, Arby’s never did respond.  It’s been over a week.

From: Eric <me@my.email.address>
To: “customerservice@arbys.com”
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Subject: Re: Arby’s Feedback #473197

Hello friends,

It’s been a week, and I haven’t heard back from my feedback submission…  #473197.

Any hope of some answers?

Thanks,
-Eric
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

I did get this engaging missive after I inquired about a response using my trusty tracking number…

From: “customerservice@arbys.com” <customerservice@arbys.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Subject: Arby’s Feedback #473197 Follow-Up

Dear Arby’s Guest,

This e-mail is related to your feedback tracking number 473197.

In order to better serve our customers, we would like to know if you have been contacted by a representative of Arby’s in our efforts to resolve your issue or answer your question.

We appreciate your comments and will use them to improve the overall experience of our customers at our restaurant.

Sincerely,
Arby’s Guest Feedback Team

So I wrote back (again)

From: Eric <me@my.email.address>
To: “customerservice@arbys.com” <customerservice@arbys.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Subject: Re: Arby’s Feedback #473197 Follow-Up

Hello,

I have not been contacted.  That’s why I wrote again.  Should I include a copy of my 1st email?

Thanks,
-Eric
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

Is it just me, or was the purpose of my original email to state that I had not yet received a reply?  Yet, that asked me if I had received a reply?  Are you even reading these emails, Arby’s?

And that (of course) has gone unanswered again.

I even tried Wendy’s because they once owned part of Arby’s

From: “Domyan, Amanda”
To: “me@my.email.address” <me@my.email.address>
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Subject: arbys

Eric,

 I’m sorry they have not responded to you, but Wendy’s and Arby’s are actually not joined together any longer.  We separated about 3 years ago.

 Amanda Domyan

Consumer Relations
One Dave Thomas Blvd.
Dublin, OH 43017
614.764.6800 (Office)
Amanda.domyan@wendys.com

Obviously no help there.

This is what happens when I think out loud, or in type…

https://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/183032227028926464

https://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/183032573079982080

Heh. Yeah. @Bronco_Jalapeno was born.

https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038291052986368
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038412197081090
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038454639239169
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038681756610560
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038762043965440
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038807271153664
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038854368985090
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038888271544321
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038933083500545
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183038979849990144
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039017254785025
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039099576393728
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039128382869504
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039215775383552
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039233336942593
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039267679911936
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039349972156416
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039395258048513
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039428925722625
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039579039862784
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039602842542080
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039643892187136
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039675370450944
https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183039850092564480

https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183040607328018433

This is America, where the crazy vocal fringe minority gets their way.  Let’s get this done, OK?

Arby's Sign

If the sign says it's delicious, it must be delicious... Right?

https://twitter.com/#!/Bronco_Jalapeno/status/183195389812412418

OCCUPY ARBY’S


Comparing my minor inconveniences to a “massive” political movement?  Yes.  I just did that.  I generally make light of many things.  You’re about to read one of those things.

Arby's :: Jalapeno Bites® with Bronco Berry Sauce®

"*Limited availability at participating locations" roughly translates to "NONE FOR YOU!"

Arby’s has stopped serving Jalapeño Bites (& more importantly the Bronco Berry Sauce) in some areas.  I became informed of this travesty via Twitter

https://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/178608117976801281

These tweeters’ tweets are locked, so I can’t do a fancy repost, but…

@BlondeYinzer
@AiXeLsyD13 @arbys ring away those b*stards took jalapeño poppers off the menu #thehorror

@BlondeYinzer
@AiXeLsyD13 @arbys I don’t know if it’s a local pgh thing but the one by my house said last week they are gone!!! :o( I’m traumatized!!!

@AllergyBird
@AiXeLsyD13 you write the best letters… @BlondeYinzer @arbys

https://twitter.com/#!/Arbys/status/178613977838923776

https://twitter.com/#!/Arbys/status/178614177575862272

https://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/179585155038588928

https://twitter.com/#!/Arbys/status/179594492217790466

https://twitter.com/#!/Arbys/status/179594585595580416

https://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/179617235881558016

No reply to that last one, of course.

There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to the plight: Facebook | Bring Back Arby’s Jalapeno Bites

There’s a slightly less eloquent Facebook page that also might be upset: Facebook | Bronco Berry Sauce

This is ridiculous.  I can be more ridiculous.  So, I decided to submit an email via Arby’s webform:

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

No more Jalapeño Poppers & (perhaps more importantly) BRONCO BERRY SAUCE®?

Please tell me that this is temporary insanity & that they will be back soon.  Please?

I understand that the stores were given a choice between carrying some loaded potato bite shenanigans and the Jalapeño poppers, and local stores in my area (Pittsburgh, PA) opted for the not-so-awesome menu selection.

I understand that we (the consumers) are directed to voice our opinions to the local Arby’s locations.

My questions to you are as follows…

☘ WHY?  Why did they have to choose?  Why not carry both?

☘ WHY (again)?  Why would one choose some potato things over the awesomeness that is BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® (& Jalapeño Poppers)?

☘ HOW?  How do I contact the local Arby’s via email?  Do they each have email addresses?  Is there a regional manager?

☘ WELL?  If I can’t get the BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® locally, can I order some online?  Will you start bottling & selling it in grocery stores now that it’s no longer readily available to the masses?

It most certainly does not put me in a good mood to not have my BRONCO BERRY SAUCE®.  I’m pretty sure I could straight-up just drink the stuff were it a little thinner.  Rude Mood Food is more like it now, my friends.

I may have to organize an OCCUPY ARBY’S at a nearby location.  It may get crazy.  There may be news cameras.  It will be a peaceful protest, so please don’t pepper spray any of us.  You may, however, shower us with packets of BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® and hot fresh Jalapeño Poppers.  We’ll have to chant things like “Don’t be a dingleberry, bring back the Bronco Berry!”, “No Jalapeños dude, that’s Rude Mood Food!”, or “Potato Bites, really bite!” (Well, that one may need work.)

Please, talk some sense into the Arby’s locations in the Pittsburgh area before it comes down to this insanity.

Bronco Berry Backer,
-Eric

This is all I have received so far:

From: “customerservice@arbys.com” <customerservice@arbys.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Subject: Arby’s Feedback #473197

Dear Arby’s Guest,

We have received your Guest Feedback message and are directing it to the appropriate department. For follow-up purposes, your feedback tracking number is 473197.

Your feedback helps us improve the overall guest experience at our restaurants. Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Sincerely,
Arby’s Guest Feedback Team

Ridiculous. It’s still not the most ridiculous thing that’s happened in an Arby’s parking lot around here.  I mean, remember this dude?

Arby's Sign

If they have to tell you that it's delicious, maybe it's not really delicious.

Not that I’m the biggest Arby’s fan in the first place.  I’m more of a fan of actual Roast Beef, not this lunch-meat stuff like Arby’s or the all-gone-except-the-ones-on-the-Turnpike Roy Rogers has.  (Remember Rax?  They had that too.)  Ever been to Lion’s Choice?  I believe they’re centered around St. Louis.  That, my friends, is how roast beef is done.

You might say “just get your jalapeño bites (or poppers) somewhere else, you weirdo”.  To that, I say…

Are we clear?

Are you also angry about this?  Voice your opinions below… perhaps we can get Arby’s to look here & reconsider this grievous error.  If not, maybe we’ll to the Occupy Arby’s thing.  I bet we could get on the news.

Beyond that, the next step may be petitioning McDonald’s, Wendy’s, & Chick-fil-A to carry them…

Do you have any suggestions for protest slogans?  Would you join an Occupy Arby’s movement?  What should be our next course of action?

Boston Market ups the pressure… (a.k.a. What now, Panera Bread?)


Insanity.

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/136910586947715072

That’s right.  Boston Market not only reached out via my contact form thanks to Facebook, but also had the cojones to do this…

Boston Market RT!

Boston Market RT!

I still haven’t received a reply to my email to Mr. Wakabayashi, but what now Panera Bread? What now?  Clearly, this will pan out to be a bigger rivalry than Neil Young vs. Skynrd, or East Coast Rap vs. West Coast Rap.  Maybe even bigger than me vs. the people that think I’m McDonald’s (At Least Mr. Wakabayashi used my contact form correctly!)

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/137169033266077696

http://twitter.com/#!/bostonmarket/status/137212008138424321

If you have no idea what’s going on, or if you work for Panera Bread.  You can catch up here…

In other news, did you know that they both cater?  I wish someone would have told me.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on UrbanspoonI actually stopped at the local Panera the other night because the wife was sick and wanted some of that cheese-broccoli soup.  I went in to get some to go, and got myself a half of a turkey sandwich and a cup of the chicken noodle.

The employee (a young girl, of course) at the counter was quite friendly, asked if I wanted lettuce tomato or onion on the sandwich, and even asked if I wanted mustard and/or mayo.  Clearly, someone went over new procedures.  Sadly, I asked for lettuce & tomato… and got neither, but I did get mustard and mayo.  I applaud the effort, and shame on me for not checking before I left the store.

I have to say, after my initial complaint, they have totally stepped it up service-wise.  I still call shenanigans on the new soup.  They ought to let sales do the talking… OFFER BOTH.  It’s certainly a popular item.  Let the consumers decide if they want a great-tasting soup… or the crappy flat-noodled healthy soup.  Clearly, as a leader in the Fast Casual industry, you can afford to test the proverbial waters?  I think more changes have been made, but it’s still not the old soup.  Shenanigans.

Also, I counted 3 signs within  a span of about 8 feet on the counter where you wait for your order advertising the catering… and the pop machine still does it too.  I think the receipt may have even said something about it.

I spend far too much time contemplating fast food & fast casual dining.  If only I could save time buy purchasing already prepared meals.  Does anyone out there do that?

New Catering Advertisement Opportunities! (for Boston Market & Panera Bread)


I’m just sayin’.

Panera Bread  - vs. -  Boston Market

Panera Bread - vs. - Boston Market

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 4, 2011
Subject: New Catering Advertisement Opportunities!
To: & Cc:  A bunch of Panera & Boston Market Employees

Hello friends at Boston Market & Panera Bread,

I assume that the lack of response to my last email about an all-out catering battle at my house was ill-received.  I didn’t get any interest from either camp, or even any kind of acknowledgement of my email.  Not even a coupon.  Isn’t that the typical response?  “Throw ’em a coupon!”  Color me disappointed.

No reply is rather rude, don’t you think?  Batman movie night has come & gone.  We dutifully provided a favorable dining experience to our guests thanks to an incredible local pizza shop.  Roasted red peppers as a pizza topping?  A hit all around, I tell you!  Subs with a homemade feel cut in to bite-size appetizers were also quite delicious.

I’m not sure why neither Panera Bread or Boston Market was willing to enter my catering battle royale.  It would have been an exciting opportunity for both of you.  I realize now… that you need help with forward thinking.  You missed this opportunity to advertise your catering and fight for my dollar.

I believe that I may have come around to your way of thinking.  Perhaps I need to fight for your dollar.  I previously saw advertisements on the pop machine and all over the windows as borderline obscene… but why stop at the border, friends?  Let’s trample the border, deface it on our way through, and not look back!  I have some ideas that you may find attractive.  I really look forward to your feedback.  (Don’t give me any shenanigans about unsolicited ideas and what-not, we’re all friends here.)

  • Advertising on the napkins.  You already do it on the receipts, walls, & windows.  Subway uses their napkins for nutrition information.  Show them up, advertise!  Think of all that clean wasted ad space ripe for the slinging of your delicious wares.  Were one ambitious, this could extend to the “to go” sandwich wrappings, the fancy new plates that you’re both using, and even the trays.  Hell, why not the drink cups?
  • Guerrilla advertising. You could have employees go into your parking lot at regular intervals, and put flyers under the windshield wipers of cars.  If you really wanna get crazy, try bumper stickers!  People would love decorations on their autos.
  • Me.  Send me a T-shirt that advertises your catering services.  I play in a band.  I’ll wear it to shows.  The throngs of bar patrons who rock out with me on a regular basis will be sure to flock to the nearest Panera Bread or Boston Market location.  I might be able to convince my band-mates to do the same.  If we’d like to get really crazy, may I offer to sell my forehead as a billboard?
  • Paystubs.  Your employees get paid right?  Get that money back!  Advertise your catering services on their pay-stubs, and any communications that you need to send.  There’s room on that W2 envelope for a 10% off catering coupon.
  • Right on the food itself.  This is the one that excites me the most!  You’ve seen the toasters that produce an image of Darth Vader, and the irons that brand your initials on to a steak, right?  There are also printers that print right on things like rice paper & cakes.  Why not take advantage of this technology?  Think about it.  Full color printing on wraps?  Toasty images on buns, bread, & bagels?  Delicious meat branded with confidence, demanding that you pick up a catering menu.  It’s never been done.  It’s opulent.  It’s genius.  (If I do say so myself.)

So, what do you think?  Can I help in this new advertising adventure?  These are the next steps in the evolution of promulgation.  Let’s move onward and upward, into uncharted catering promotional territory.  It will be an onslaught to the senses, and an influx in revenue for all involved.  I’m excited for this venture, and especially excited to get some feedback from everyone involved.

Excelsoir!
-Waldo Lunar
[ -YOUR AD COULD BE HERE- ]

incessant emails / incessant advertising

incessant emails / incessant advertising

Further Reading:

Panera responds to my insanity, so I write back…


So after my last Panera-related post, I went a little goofy. I put a post on their Facebook wall

http://www.facebook.com/panerabread/posts/124723480954835

Found this part of that amusing:

…the corporate office (or in your case the corporate office for our franchise partner who operates bakery-cafes in the Pittsburgh area) reviews your email before contacting and working closely with the general manager to try to resolve the issue.

I also tweeted a few times…

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/96920982714990592

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/96949713940643841

…and got this DM from them:

Panera Breadpanerabread Hey, thx for sharing feedback through website. Sorry about your disappointing experience, our CS team is looking into & will be in touch.

Heh.

I got this email from the local general manager…

From: 3497 <panera3497@covelli.com>
To: [me]
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 10:50 AM
Subject: Contact Us

Dear Mr. Carroll,

I would like to introduce myself as Carrie Janota, the General Manager at the Greentree Panera Bread. I appreciate all your feedback and coaching. Your response will definitely help us with current and future training to associates, especially this time of year. The company has made several changes with menu items that you expressed in your comments. First, our turkey is now presliced so the consistency is different than when we sliced it in house. We also changed the recipe of our chicken noodle soup, which makes it all natural. Another healthy initiative we have taken is the removal of sauces on all cafe sandwiches. We offer packets of mayo and mustard at the condiment bar or you are welcomed to inform the cashier that you would like the condiments on the sandwich and we will gladly put them on for you. The “no onions” is our mistake and I would like to compensate you for a free meal next time you visit a Panera Bread. If you could please send me your address, I will gladly put the coupon in the mail for you. Again, thank you for your input, I use all issues as a learning tools for our associates.

Carrie Janota
General Manager

So, this is what I wrote back to them…

-餧馕馒-

Thank you Ms. Janota,

You certainly can address me as “Eric”, not “Mr. Carroll”. I appreciate your incredibly rapid and well-stated response to my experience yesterday. I was going out of my mind in disbelief. I would suggest that Panera spend more time asking/telling customers about changes, and less time advertising your catering services. I mean, really… on the pop machine, you’re advertising the catering service? What about a nice big poster that says… “WARNING: WE CHANGED THE TASTY NOODLES IN THAT SOUP THAT YOU LIKE, THE MEAT ON OUR SANDWICHES, AND HAVE DECIDED TO FORGO MUSTARD.” (Or even a nice traditional Coke or Pepsi logo?)

Boston Market is annoying/obnoxious with advertising their catering too. I get it. You guys cater. I know this. I’m here for dinner. You don’t need to advertise for a place that I’m already in. Imagine going into Walmart & seeing a sign in every aisle that advertises the stuff in the next aisle. This could get quote old quite quickly.

  • Attn: Panera – I don’t host any lunch parties or have a need for sandwich rings.
  • Attn: Boston Market – I can cook my own Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner.
  • Attn: Bob Evans – I can handle making my own lasagna or meatloaf.
  • Attn: Chick-fil-A – The only thing I’d do with a tray full of nuggets is eat them all myself.
Since you took the time to write, and you’re obviously concerned and well-written, I’d like to address my concerns & the new issues raised more specifically.

The Onion
– This is not a big deal. I generally don’t even say anything & just take the onion off myself. This is the first time I was ever asked “Lettuce, tomato, & onion?” in a Panera. So, I said “Lettuce & tomato, no onion please.” This is the only reason I took note. It also said on my receipt “NO ONION” – so the cashier took the effort to note it, and the sandwich-maker had to read & ignore it. Just odd. Again, this is nothing that should ruin one’s day.

The Turkey – I call shenanigans. Any foodie will tell you there’s a world of difference between lunch-meat turkey and the freshly-sliced real thing. Why would Panera decide to sacrifice quality like this? Does it save time? Does it save money? Certainly it can’t be healthier… isn’t pre-packaged lunch-meat loaded with salt & preservatives? Imagine my surprise upon looking at my $6 half-sandwich full of lunch-meat where I had expected (and previously received) actual turkey. Where was my warning of this upon ordering? I certainly didn’t get the proverbial memo here. At least there’s no confirmation of turkeys with gold nuggets in their gizzards and fine wine in their gullets. Although, I didn’t get a staunch denial.

The Lettuce & Tomato – Are Panera employees encouraged to look at the ingredients before placing them on sandwiches? Really, that’s all that would be needed to prevent the placement of brown lettuce & green tomatoes. A general rule of thumb could be “If you were going to make yourself a sandwich, would you use this?”

The lack of any condiments – Again, list this in the “things that would be nice to know before I placed my order, or at the very least as I was placing my order” category. I liked the previous dressing/sauce whatever you want to call it, and it was certainly different from the straight mayo or spicy brown mustard available by the drinks (& catering advertisement). Is this really a “healthy” option or a money-saving option? I’m reminded of the “removing one olive from every salad” story with American Airlines. It saved them a rumored $40,000. I imagine all of this no-more-condiments stuff adding up to a HUGE savings for Panera… but my sandwich didn’t get cheaper, did it? No passing along the savings? (I think Steak ‘n’ Shake has done this too… their salads used to be nice-sized with cherry tomatoes… now they’re small & have tomato slices.)

The mysterious thumbprint – The noted lack of condiments has me even more concerned about the yellow thumbprint that was on the top of my sandwich. I had just assumed it was some of the condiment that was supposed to go on the inside. I ripped this portion out of the top of my sandwich before eating, to the bewilderment of my eye-rolling yet tolerant-to-my-neuroses wife. This leads me to wonder what the yellow stuff on my sandwich was… if not mustard, was it some of her broccoli cheddar soup? If so, this is incredibly alarming because it could have easily been clam chowder… and I’m highly allergic to shellfish. How is soup on the sandwich board or my sandwich when it wasn’t even my soup? I suggest you educate your employees on allergens & cross-contamination. Barring all that… it’s just a little gross. That could have been a big yellow booger for all I know.

The healthy soup – Pardon me if I laugh at the “all natural” expression. While I understand the meaning, visions of a supernatural soup come to mind. Was the prior soup possessed by demons? The noodles certainly were homemade-looking and delicious. Were they the result of a tasty pact with the devil or an ancient spell? Did the ingredients float into the bowl themselves? I don’t know what the tiny paper-thin pasta squares in the new soup are, but they are a Ford Focus to the previous soup’s BMW 7 Series. They’re not whole-grain pasta, are they? I hate whole-grain pasta. If this soup was a state, the broth were the land-mass and the chicken bits & noodle-like squares were people… it would be Alaska or Wyoming. Do you see what I’m saying? (Actually, the noodles might be the people, and the chicken may be an endangered species living within that state… but I’ve already pushed that metaphor too far.) I’m not entirely sure if this is the fault of the soup-ladeler or the soup recipe. As far as healthy vs. tasty in soup, I suggest you look up news articles related to Campbell’s. They’re putting salt back into soup to boost sales. I see from your corporate Facebook page that this is apparently an issue that has ruffled some feathers. Perhaps a shift back is in order?

The rusty knife – Poop happens. Have the dishwasher look over some stuff. I’d throw out the rusty ones. This rust was quite prominent on the handle of the butter knife, in the details of the design.


Thank you for your time, I hope you can use my input to your advantage… for your team, and perhaps passed on to a corporate level. I’d like to respectfully decline a free meal. I don’t write these sort of emails in order to get free food… and I’m skeptical of any coupons/certificates flagging me as “oh, here’s that guy”. I may even be done with Panera bread for a while. Bedsides the potentially scary cross-contamination and general utensil-cleanliness issues, our philosophies don’t seem to mesh well. I don’t need you to make health decisions for me, I need you to give me quality meals at the prices you demand. Your new more healthy less tasty soup and lack of condiments disturbs me, and apparently your quality standards aren’t the same as mine at your current menu prices.

I’d suggest taking some of the money saved from condiment rationing, smaller noodles, & catering advertising… and funneling it into a survey system to find out what your consumers want, or at the very least making signs or T-shirts that say “We’re holding the mustard unless you tell us not to!” or “New soup! Less noodles & chicken, but no ghosts!” It would also be money well spent on allergy training or buying new non-rusty silverware. Do you have any corporate contacts whom with I could perhaps take up this discussion?


Supernatural soup supporter,
-Eric

?sretac arenaP taht wonk uoy diD .seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

-餧馕馒-

I for one can’t wait for a reply.

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The Great Panera Bread Swindle


The last two times I have been to Panera Bread, it’s been a debacle.  Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit… but it’s still ridiculous when compared to the price.  At the Robinson (Settler’s Ridge?) location, I got the wrong sandwich entirely… but tonight’s experience was absolutely ridiculous.  I actually just reviewed my experience at PaneraListens.com (as per the receipt), and through the contact form on their website.

This is what I shared…

I paid $6.69 for a half of a sandwich, which is now lunch meat & used to be actual pieces of turkey.  There were onions on the sandwich, and the receipt says “no onions” like I asked.  No big deal in itself.  There was no mustard/mayo/sauce on the sandwich, except for a thumbprint of something on the top/outside that shouldn’t be there.  Didn’t it used to come with a mustard?  1 of the 2 pieces of lettuce had brown edges.  The center of the tomato was hard & green.  The chicken noodle soup was ridiculously sparse as far as the  noodles and/or chicken.  I had about 4 or 5 spoonfuls of actual ingredients, and about a half bowl of broth.  The (lack of) quality of the meal was astounding.  How far has a once-great restaurant fallen?  I expect crappy food/service from McDonald’s… but not from Panera Bread.

You can improve by instructing employees to read their screens or receipts or whatever they read to make the orders.  You can then teach them how to make sandwiches without using brown lettuce or green tomatoes… and how to not put mustard thumb-prints on the outside of mustard-less sandwiches.  (Cross-contamination is a nightmare for people with food-allergies, have you considered this?)  You can also teach them how to ladle proper portions of chicken noodle soup… now with lame little noodles instead of the homemade-looking ones of yesteryear.

You can also stop subbing turkey lunch meat for real turkey in your $6 turkey sandwiches.  A friggin’ POUND of turkey at the grocery store doesn’t even cost $6, and YOU should be getting restaurant/wholesale prices.  Not that I would deny you profit… but REALLY?  Do the turkeys that you buy use gold nuggets in their gizzards?  Do they drink fine wine?

I neglected to go complain, because everyone working seemed to really care less if my order was correct or not… I also fear some sort of retaliation if I need a re-made sandwich or an actual bowl (not cup) of soup.

My wife had a cream of broccoli soup & a salad that looked spectacular.  No brown lettuce even… and it was a whole bowl!  She did get a knife that had rust on the handle though… sort of unappetizing.  I’d rather see plastic flatware than rusty flatware.

Something was really wrong here today, or I just had some bad karma all around my order.

I know I sound insane, and it’s really not that big of a deal… but this kind of stuff drives me absolutely nuts.  I just can’t imagine serving a half-assed sandwich… with a thumbprint on it, either in my house to a guest, or especially not at a job where I’m being paid to do it.  Also, you go to a chain for consistency… which I have never received at Panera.

I think I’m most disappointed with the apparent swindling of turkey lunch meat for actual turkey… and whatever those tiny little pasta squares were compared to the old homemade style noodles.  Panrea bread… we’re not stupid.  I doubt I’ll be back.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on Urbanspoon